7 Interesting Facts About Estonia
Estonia… maybe you’ve heard of it, and but maybe you’re sort of fuzzy on where it is. This Baltic country has plenty of amazing things going for it right now – and it’s starting to make its way up the “must-visit” lists. From an insta-worthy capital city, to superfast internet – read on to learn more about Estonia – including where the heck it’s actually located!
- Estonia celebrated its 100th birthday in 2018. Estonia declared its independence in February 1918, and in honor of the country’s centennial, towns across the country will take turns hosting birthday festivities.
- The language is pretty unique! It’s most closely related to Finnish, but it borrows a bit from German too. It’s said to be one of the most difficult languages for English-speakers to learn, so it’s a good thing over 1/3 of Estonians are fluent in English already!
- Locals perceive themselves as a bit wary and cold. (Give them a break – the country has been occupied by its neighbors for nearly all of its history!) Personal experience begs to differ, however, as the majority of Estonians we’ve encountered have been friendly and eager to share their culture.
- The digital society is like no other. E-Estonia got its start in 1991, when Estonia became independent of Russia (again). They were able to invest in their own digital knowledge, building technologies that allowed them to forgo building government offices in a post-Soviet economy – moving most services to digital platforms instead. Estonians can sign contracts, use their E-ID to pay for public transit (although its already free for residents of Tallin), vote, receive digital prescriptions, declare taxes, create a new company, apply for government aid or services (maternity leave, for example). Almost everything can be done online!
- Estonia receives more tourists each year than its total population. It’s one of the least populated countries in Europe (28.4 people per square kilometer), which means it’s easy to get out of the bustle of the city and relax.
- It’s super green! 50% of the country is forested – and 69% of the population believe that trees have a soul.
- Estonians love to sing – they have one of the largest collections of folk songs in the world. In fact, Estonians were so determined to keep their culture alive during the Soviet occupation, that they banded together to sing. They even used the power of song to demand their independence by gathering in a mass of 300,000 to sing patriotic songs. It would become known as the Singing Revolution, and was active for five years, until they gained their independence (again) in 1991.
Still feeling foggy on your Estonian geography? It’s the gateway between Scandinavia and Eastern/Central Europe! This centrally-located country is culturally more similar to its northern neighbors, Finland and Sweden, though it’s often grouped with its Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania. Of course, Russia is next door, too.
Learn more about educational travel programs to Estonia.